Political Science 3480
      Fall 2014

     Printable version here      




Instructor:         Dave Robertson, 801 Tower                 

Office Hours:    Monday & Wednesday, 11-11:30; Thursday 9:00-Noon 
                          and I will arrange other
times to fit your schedule.

Phone 516-5855; Fax 516-5268, e-mail DaveRobertson@umsl.edu; twitter @robertsonMO


Teaching Assistant:  Timothy Lewis, Office 906 Tower; ph 314-516-6487; email: telr43@mail.umsl.edu

Contents: What Is The Course About?How To Get A Good GradeExamsBooksParticipationThe Memo
Detailed Course ScheduleEnvironmental Politics WebsitesCritical Thinking SkillsEnvironmental Politics Bibliography

Eight Tips for Studying Smarter and Learning Better!

1.  What is the Course About?
  Our deepest hopes, doubts and conflicts shape our choices about the land, air and water that are essential to our lives. We value our environment for the beauty that ennobles us and the resources that enrich us. Environmental policy reveals what is at stake in society’s decisions about the environment and on the priorities we set. It also tells us about the way that government solves problems including the strengths and weaknesses of government as an instrument for realizing our ideals.


This course has two goals. First, we have to understand key environmental controversies and the way American government has responded to them. Topics include water and air pollution, population growth, energy, global warming, solid and hazardous waste, endangered species, and international environmental cooperation. The second goal is to build problem solving skills by applying them to these difficult problems. Political science is a discipline that analyzes the way that groups of people work out problems when they disagree about values and are uncertain about facts. Environmental issues offer a great way to explore the way that our societies engage in this kind of problem solving. Environmental problems involve ideological, partisan, class, ethnic, and gender conflicts. They also involve great uncertainty about causes, effects, and risk. If you understand environmental problem solving in the United States, then, you will have a better understanding of solving other kinds of problems. This course does not require that you have a background in biological or other sciences

By the end of the course, then, you should have (1) mastered a body of basic information about environment issues and policies, and (2) a better command of the problem-solving skills used to make public policy.  To measure your achievement, the course includes extensive class discussion, three examinations, quizzes, and a final paper. 

2. Our Contract.  By enrolling in this course, you and I have agreed to a contract with each other.  I'll work hard to be prepared, enthusiastic, fair and respectful of every student and their standpoint.  I'll be accessible and try my best to return graded materials after no more than a week.  By enrolling in the class, you've agreed to (1) attend every class, (2) to participate by asking questions and joining in class discussions, and (3) reading the assigned material and completing assignments on time.  You are paying for and receiving a University of Missouri class.  Of all the consumer purchases you make, don't let your University of Missouri education be the one purchase where you expect less for your money.

3. Books. The following books, which are required reading in this course, are available at the UM-St. Louis bookstore.

Easton, Thomas A. ed. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues, 15th edition. Paperback. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2013. ISBN: 0-07-351451-9.

Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People (any edition - available used and in many public libraries)

Rosenbaum, Walter A., Environmental Politics and Policy, 9th ed. Paperback. Los Angeles: Sage/CQ Press, 2013. ISBN-13: 978-1452239965

There are a number of additional readings; many of them are very short newspaper articles. All are available in My Gateway, in Docs and Assignments.

The class schedule below lists all the reading, quiz, exam, and assignment dates.  Each date has a title.  Click on the title to get an outline of the day's class. Each outline will be available the evening prior to the class.

4How to Get a Good Grade. The grade for the course will be determined in the following way:

Participation: 10% of the final grade

Quizzes: 10% of the final grade
Exam 1: 15% of the final grade
Exam 2: 15% of the final grade
Exam 3: 20% of the final grade
Memo Question, Significance: 5% of the final grade
Memo Synopsis/Outline/Bibliography: 5% of the final grade

Memo: 20% of the final grade

NOTE: You are not are NOT competing with other students for a grade. There is no curve in this course. Each student can get an A, or can get a D. It's up to you.

5. Participation. You must participate in this course actively in order for it to work well. You must prepare for and attend class, and you must contribute thoughtfully to discussion. To ensure fairness in allocating this portion of the grade, sign-up sheets will be circulated during some of the classes. I strongly encourage you to ask questions about environmental policy and public policy. I strongly encourage you to ask questions about the day's readings and lecture.

Your reading assignments are listed on the attached class schedule. You are expected to read the material before coming to class, and you are expected to be prepared to discuss the reading material in class. You may be asked to discuss a question regarding the reading during the class for which the reading is assigned. You are expected and must plan to participate in class for the trial of Dr. Stockmann (September 15) and the Mediterranean exercise (December 1 and 3).

6. Exams. There will be three exams (September 29 in class, November 3 in class, and December 17 in our classroom at 10:00 am). Each of the exams will consist of three parts: 20 true / false questions worth 2 points each, 2 identification questions worth 10 points each, and an essay worth 40 points.  The final exam will include an additional essay question. 

7. Environmental Policy Memo. You will write a 14-16 page environmental policy memo for the class (samples of past memos are available on My Gateway at My Docs and Assignments). The paper requires you to provide information to US, Missouri (or other, by arrangement) legislative committee (addressing members of both parties) about an specific environmental policy issue of your choice. The memo is due no later than Monday December 8. You must turn in two assignments in advance.  First, you have to submit a 1-2 paragraph written proposal for the memo on Wednesday, September 17. This proposal must include must include a statement of the policy issue or question, and a statement of why the question matters.   Second, you have to submit a one-paragraph synopsis of the memo, an outline of the memo and a bibliography at least 6 sources (no Wikipedia or online encyclopedia) by Wednesday, October 22 (see below). The proposal and the outline each are worth 5% of the paper grade.


This assignment aims to encourage you to use the course concepts to analyze the environmental problem and policy response of your choice. The purpose is to apply your knowledge of environmental politics to a topic that interests you.  To do that, you should provide information that a policy maker should know about the policy choices involved (you can make up a name, or use a real office, like director of the EPA or Secretary of State, or name the person you are addressing this to – whatever helps you focus on writing the memo).  There are six kinds of things a policy-maker should know about. I recommend that you use these headings to outline your memo:


1.  Why should this issue be on the government agenda?  Explain to the policy-maker how many people the issue affects, and how it affects them.  The policy-maker needs to know as clearly why she or he should care about this issue.  What’s the problem or the danger if something isn’t done?

2.  What are the key things to know about past efforts to deal with this issue?  The policy-maker needs to know what has been done about this issue in the past. This asks about policy development (or if you like, “path dependence”). How have we dealt with this issue in the past?  Has past government policy encouraged behaviors we should change, and if so, how did that evolve?

3.  What are the key alternative choices for addressing this issue, and what are their consequences? The policy-maker needs to know what different choices government can make.  How can government deal with this? What tools are available – command and control? Taxes and subsidies? Cap & Trade? What else.  Remember, doing nothing is an alternative – and a choice.

4.  Who are the key participants in this issue?  The policy-maker needs to know how the influential groups feel about this issue and especially how they feel about the alternative choices.  What businesses are affected: oil? coal? The electrical utilities? The auto industry?  How about the environmental groups? Trade unions?  How about state and local officials and members of the US Congress from different states (Midwestern states are different from states on the West Coast). How powerful are these interests?  How will they react to different alternatives?

5.  Describe the political costs and benefits of different alternatives.  The policy-maker needs to know exactly how the answers to 3 & 4 are connected.  For example, if one of the options is cap and trade, how will the oil companies, the coal companies, and the environmental groups respond? 

6.  What is the best alternative course of action in the future? Based on your answer to questions 3, 4, and 5, explain to the policy maker why one choice is better than others.  Explain not only in environmental and economic terms, but in political terms as well. 

The memo is 14-16 pages.  Grading criteria include: (1) the degree to which you put effort into the paper; (2) the degree to which you use specific facts and figures in your analysis; (3) the fairness, objectivity, and recognition of all points of view demonstrated in the paper; (4) the quality of the writing and organization of the paper; (5) the quality and diversity of the sources; (6) the persuasiveness of the your argument for the proposed improvement in the situation. An "A" paper will be clear, concise, and specific. It will cite at least 8 sources (of which 1 should be from class readings, 2 from outside research articles, and 2 from outside books).

In the Synopsis/Outline/Bibliography due October 22, I want to know that you have been working on the memo.  The sysnopsis briefly summarizes (1 paragraph) the memo so far. The outline should indicate that you’ve thought about, and read some information about, answering the 6 questions related to the central question in your memo. ou can submit an outline based on these six questions, providing a preliminary answer to most of them under each heading (you can organize this in a different way if you prefer). I’d expect this outline to fill about a half a page or more, single spaced.  Also, show that you have read enough to be able to list at least 6 sources (not Wikipedia); they can be books, articles, or websites that provide specific evidence you are likely to use in writing your memo. Give a full citation

LATE MEMOs lose 1 point for every day that ends in the letter "y".

8. Quizzes There will be six short quizzes in the class: September 3, September 15, October 13, October 20, November 12, and December December 1. These quizzes will cover the readings due for that date class and nothing else; the last quiz will cover information you will gather on the nation you are assigned for the Mediterranean exercise.

9. Current Events. Pay closer attention to environmental policy developments this semester. You can do this by reading the St. Louis Post-Dispatch national news section more closely, and by scanning the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal are among the newspapers available daily. The daily St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the New York Times, and USA Today are available free to students at several locations on campus. Grist, the Environmental New Network, and the BBC have very good coverage of environmental issues.  See also the Environmental Politics Links on the course website. The Monkey Cage / Environmental Politics site has very good coverage of the political science work on environmental politics. Google news includes articles from many newspapers around the nation and the world.  The Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report and the National Journal are weekly publications available in the reference area, and they are outstanding sources for national policy developments.

10. Plagiarism.  Plagiarism means taking the written ideas of someone else and presenting them in your writing as if they were your ideas, without giving the author credit.  Plagiarism (a word which comes from the Latin word for kidnapping) is deceitful and dishonest.  Violations that have occurred frequently in the past include not using quotation marks for direct quotes and not giving citations when using someone else's ideas; using long strings of quotations, even when properly attributed, does not constitute a paper of your own.


Plagiarism in written work for this class is unacceptable. The University's Student Conduct Code classifies plagiarism as a form of academic dishonesty.  Depending on the severity of the plagiarism, punishment can include receiving no credit for the assignment, failing the course and referral for university disciplinary action.

10. Other Stuff. When I return your exam, please check to make sure that I have computed your grade correctly. Please ask questions! Please be in your seat by the time class begins. Please do not hold private conversations during class. If you do not understand lecture, if you have further questions about lecture, please don't hesitate to interrupt and ask your question.


► * indicates article is in .pdf form in My Gateway, Docs and Assignments

August 25 (Monday)         Introduction: Standpoints


August 27 (Wednesday)    Priorities: Prosperity 

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 1-7
* Nash, "A Wilderness Condition" (.pdf in My Gateway, Docs and Assignments)


September 1 (Monday)      Labor Day - Class does not meet


September 3 (Wednesday) Priorities: Conservation, Reverence, Security 

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 9-29

                Taking Sides, Issues 1, 4, pages 2-21, 63-81




September 8 (Wednesday)   How Serious are the Risks? 

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 129-157

               Taking Sides, Issue 16, pages 296-316
* "Pollution is substantially worse in minority neighborhoods"  

September 10 (Wednesday) How Much is the Environment Worth? 

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 165-193

                Taking Sides, Issue 3, pages 37-61


September 15 (Monday)     The Trial of Dr. Stockmann

    READ: Ibsen, An Enemy of the People




September 17 (Wednesday) Puzzles of American Public Opinion and Polarization

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 62-70

                * "2014 Pew Political Typology, Read Pages 1-6 only"

                * "2014 Pew Public Opinion on Environment"

                * Guber and Bosso, "Issue Framing in Environmental Discourse"


MEMO PROPOSAL DUE (1-2 paragraphs)


September 22 (Monday)     The Puzzles of American Policy-Making

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 33-62, 70-74

                * "Coal’s Clout Endures in Washington"

                * "Coal State Dems Diverge on Obama Policies"


September 24 (Wednesday)  The Puzzles of American Government

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 74-93

                * "The single most important fact about American politics"

                * "For President Obama, a renewed focus on climate"

                * "Trampling Democracy to Fight Climate Change"

                * "Beyond Gridlock and American Environmental Policy"


September 29 (Monday) EXAM 1 - Study Guide for Exam 1



October  1 (Wednesday) How Does the United States Govern Land?

    READ: * "Putting People in the Map: Anthropogenic Biomes of the World"

                Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 317-327

October  6 (Monday) How Does the United States Govern Land?

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 327-358

               * "Land Use Choices"


October  8 (Wednesday) How Does the United States Govern Energy? Electricity and Coal

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 278-279, 287-294

                * "11 maps that explain the US energy system"

                * "2030 Market Outlook"

                * "Utilities unsure of future as environmental regs loom"

                Taking Sides, Issue 8, pages 148-170

October 13 (Monday) How Does the United States Govern Energy? Oil & Gas

    READ:  Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 279-287

                 Taking Sides, Issues 7, 10,  pages 132-147, 186-201




October 15 (Wednesday) How Does the United States Govern Energy? Other Sources

     READ:  Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 294-302, 304-311

                 Taking Sides, Issues 9,11, pages 171-185, 202-221

                 * "Ameren still interested in nuclear"

                 * "The energy future Americans want"


October 20 (Monday) How Does the United States Govern Nuclear Power and Waste?

       READ:  Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 302-304

                     Taking Sides, Numbers 12, 19, pages 222-240, 343-356




October 22 (Wednesday)  Command and Control

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 197-203
                * "EPA-setting-goals"
                * "Ameren criticizes EPA carbon rule"
                * "Missouri governor signs bill on carbon emissions"




October 27 (Monday) How Does the United States Govern Air?

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 201-219


October 29  (Wednesday) How Does the United States Govern Water?

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 219-237



November  3 (Monday)        EXAM 2 - Study Guide for Exam 2



November  5 (Wednesday) Regulating Toxics

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 241-252

               Taking Sides, Issue 18, pages 343-357


November 10 (Monday) How Does the United States Govern Hazardous & Solid Waste?

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 252-272

               Taking Sides, Issue 17, pages 293-326


November 12 (Wednesday) Climate Change: Why So Much Political Controversy?

    READ:  "Chart of the Week: Climate change is already here"

                 Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 361-377

                 * "Insurers Stray From the Conservative Line on Climate Change"

                 * Heartland Institute

                 * "Joe Manchin, Sheldon Whitehouse seek middle ground on climate change"

                 Taking Sides, Issue 6, pages 106-129



November 17 (Monday) Climate Change / International Problems

    READ: * "Briefing: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change"

               * "5 charts"
                Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 377-392
Taking Sides, Issue 21, pages 385-397           


November 19 (Wednesday) How Does the World Manage International Problems?

    READ: * Smith, The Environmental Policy Paradox, 288-299, 304-322

                Taking Sides, Issue 20, pages 370-384


November 24 & 26: Fall Break - Class does not meet


December  1 (Monday) The Mediterranean 1      
    READ: Assignment & Assigned Country Basic Information
                * State of the Mediterranean 2012                                                    




December  3 (Wednesday) The Mediterranean 2


December  8 (Monday) Future Trends: Population, Food, and Biodiversity

    READ: * Rosendal, Global Environmental Governance, 283-301
                Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 282-289

                Taking Sides, Issue 13, pages 241-256


    MEMO DUE  (-1 point for each day late)


December 10 (Wednesday) Future Trends 

    READ: Taking Sides, Issue 2, pages 22-36
                * "What Does Today Owe Tomorrow?"


December 17 (Wednesday)   FINAL EXAM, 10:00-12:00 - Study Guide for Final Exam




Environmental New Service (ENS) /
The National Library for the Environment / Earth Policy Institute
National Council for Science and the Environment / The Daily Planet
Florida Center for Environmental Studies
Environmental Organizations

Congress /  The President /  The Federal Judicial System / Environmental Law
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Department of the Interior /  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
U.S. Department of Energy / U.S. DOE Energy Topics A-Z
State and local government / Council of State Governments Environmental Policy / Interstate Compacts

Missouri State Government
Missouri Department of Conservation / Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Missouri data

St. Louis City / St. Louis County / St. Charles County / Jefferson County
Missouri Botanical Garden

EPA Envirofacts / St. Louis Air Quality Camera

League of Conservation Voters / Missouri Votes Conservation
Sierra Club / Sierra Club - Ozark Chapter
/ Natural Resources Defense Council / National Audubon Society / Audubon Society-St. Louis
/ National Wildlife Federation / Izaak Walton League / Environmental Defense Fund
/ World Wildlife Federation
/ Missouri Coalition for the Environment / American Rivers
Wilderness Society  /Greenpeace  /Resources for the Future
Nature Conservancy / the Trust for Public Land
/ Sustainable St. Louis / Trailnet / Greenway Network
Friends of the Earth  / Earth First! / Sea Shepards

U.S. Chamber of Commerce / National Association of Manufacturers
National Federation of Independent Business
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers /
American Waterways Operators /
American Farm Bureau / National Corn Growers Association /

National Center for Environmental Economics / Ecofriendly shopping
US Clean Air Market Programs / US Watershed Trading Programs

American Petroleum Institute / Peabody Energy / Nuclear Energy Institute /
MIT Report on the Future of Coal
Platts Energy News / Edison Electric Institute /

CRS Briefing on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 1996 / CRS Briefing on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 2001

Heritage Foundation Energy and Environment
Heartland Institute  
Competitive Enterprise Institute / American Land Rights Association

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Pesticide Net
Superfund / EPA Oil Spill program /
Missouri DNR Hazardous Waste Program / Superfund, RCRA, and other environmentally sensitive sites in St. Louis

U.S. EPA Office of Solid Waste / St. Louis Region Solid Waste Disposal
Recycler’s World / Missouri Recycling Association
Zero Waste America

Biotechnology Industry Organization

President's Council on Sustainable Development - Final Report / EPA's Community-Based Approaches site /
Northwest Environment Watch / National Geographic's Smart Suburb / Sierra Club Sprawl site / Sprawl City
Smart Growth Online
Sustainable St. Louis / Suburban Sprawl in St. Louis / Confluence Greenway

Biodiversity Webserver / U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation Systems
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program
Defenders of Wildlife / WildAid  / Center for Biological Diversity

Mountain States Legal Foundation / Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise / Defenders of Property Rights
Takings and the Courts


Missouri River Basin Association
Coalition to Protect the Missouri River
Midwest Area River Coalition / Coalition to Protect the Missouri River /
Missouri Farm Bureau

The Ocean Conservancy

Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook

United Nations Environment Programme  / UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre
 Yearbook of International Co-operation on Environment and Development
/ Center for International Environmental Law

North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation

World Wildlife Federation Mediterranean Site


This course aims to improve critical thinking skills. When you evaluate the articles you read for class or for your journal, or when you participate to discussion, read and listen actively (You can use some of the items in this list directly in assessing articles in your journals; item 7 is especially important).

When you complete the course, you should be more skilled in your ability to:

1. Distinguish Fact and Opinion.

A fact is a statement that can be proven to be true. An opinion is a statement of a person's feelings about something. When you read or listen in this course, actively distinguish fact and opinion by asking:

- When someone asserts that something is true, what's the evidence?

2. Recognize Bias and Rhetoric.

What do you think the person wants readers or listeners to think or do? How does the person use words or phrases to accomplish this? Does the author or speaker paint word pictures that are particularly attractive for the things she likes, or that are especially awful for the things that he doesn't like? How do the authors select examples to stir your emotions?

3. Determine Cause and Effect.

Does the person assert that one fact follows as the result of another? (Examples include such statements as "Increased auto exhaust causes global warming," or "Government regulations cause unemployment"). How sweeping are these assertions? What is the evidence for it? How persuasive is this evidence?

4. Compare and contrast different points of view.

5. Determine the accuracy and completeness of the information provided. When you read more than one point of view on an issue, you should think about the following:

- What facts and cause-effect relationships does everyone agree about?

- What facts and cause-effect relationships do authors or speakers disagree about?

- What important facts do some persons raise, while others ignore?

- What sources could be used to determine the accuracy of the information you hear?

6. Recognize poor logic and faulty reasoning. When you read more than one point of view on an issue, you should think about the following logical problems. Note that the examples often include more than one form of poor logic.

a. Incorrect cause-effect relationships ("The Clean Air Act of 1990 preceded the recent economic recession, therefore the CAA caused the recession" [Were other factors much more influential in bringing about the economic downturn? Did the Clean Air Act have any substantial independent effect on the economy in recent years?])

b. Inaccurate or distorted use of statistics ("Environmental laws of the 1970s failed to reduce pollution;" think about whether, for example, population and economic growth offset environmental gains from policy). Think about widely different assumptions and projections of the future; for example, environmentalists may project that the protection of the Northern spotted owl may cause little net loss of jobs in the Pacific Northwest because they assume that such restrictions will benefit fishing, tourism, and other industries; the logging companies and unions may project the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

c. Faulty analogies or comparisons ("Congress can't balance the federal budget, so how can it clean up the environment?" or "Auto companies have lied about safety, so how can they be trusted on emissions controls?" Such assertions tend to be matters of opinion rather than demonstrable facts).

d. Oversimplifications that ignore important information ("Tougher environmental laws can create jobs in the long run, so the economy will be better off if stricter laws are enacted;" such a statement ignores the number of persons who may be displaced in the short run with a given environmental law).

e. Stereotyping ("all environmentalists are kooks; all conservatives are greedy crooks"). Modifiers such as "all," "never," or "always" often provide a tip off stereotyping).

f. Ignoring the question (when asked if auto emissions cause globalwarming, the person instead talks about the cost of regulation or the potential seriousness of global warming).

g. Faulty generalization (the 1970 Clean Air Act's effort to force automobile companies to drastically reduce emissions failed to cause automobile companies to reach that goal within the original time limit; therefore all environmental legislation is a failure).

7. Develop inferences and draw logical conclusions. Ask yourself:

- What are the person's conclusions?

- Do you agree or disagree with these conclusions?

- What other conclusions could you draw from this information?

- What other information is important to know before making a judgment
   about the value of this person's argument?


Last Updated August 20, 2014

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